Cultural letter #14 Readjustments


Dear friends,


Before I get over the "newness" of our travels, I thought I'd take a few minutes to try to give you a picture of the readjustments I've faced upon returning from furlough..


For me, it has meant, again.  For two months we've literally "eaten off" of others...whether restaurants while travelling (with the exception of a few snacks in the van), other Christians in their homes, dinners at churches, or at family.  I'd not cooked for 2 months. It was a nice break for me, I'd like to add, and I enjoyed it, but everyone was ready to get back to the familiar.  So, I arrived back, took stock of what was in the kitchen and freezer, and began to plan meals again.  I do most of my cooking from scratch, though I'm not opposed to convenience foods at all, and do use things like gravy mixes. (I've found that my family likes Betty Crocker--the cookbook.)  It is possible we go "out" a lot less than many other missionaries that I've talked with here in Poland simply because of the lack of available (good, inexpensive) restaurants nearby and the large size of our family, but it's okay.  I like to go "out" for the break, but I've just had a 2 month "break" and can stand to be in the kitchen for a while. :)


.........accidentally speaking a sentence in English to someone who speaks no English...In this instance it was amazing, considering the fact that I had just spent an hour talking with her in Polish, but when I got in the van, to ask one last question, out it came, in came, in "perfect" English... When I saw the quizzical look on her face, I realized what I had done.  But that's not all..upon first arriving back in the US after being here, when I accidentally bumped someone, it was przepraszam and not I'm sorry.... Likewise, I've found myself saying Oh, I'm sorry, when it should have been przepraszam  (I'm sorry in Polish).  Oh well. 


.........having little shivers of fear go through me when I got in the standard transmission van to go to the store.  This "fear" was for two reasons...shifting, I tended to throw myself around a few times, and wondering what "foolish" drivers I would encounter as I drove to the store.  Only those of you who've been to Poland can understand exactly what I mean, but a couple of days ago, I was almost hit by two different people, all in the same errand run...neither one even remotely my fault.  I couldn't help but think of the Scripture verse, "God hasn't given us the spirit of fear...."  My adrenalin was pumping pretty hard after the first "almost", and I was just glad to get back home. 


........getting back into "people" counseling again.  Sometimes you can think that we have silly problems in the states.  How's this? A young lady (with a small child) was having a hard time getting over the gossip of her neighbor (elderly) woman who apparently spread around the fact that my friend didn't get her laundry hanging up first thing in the morning, but waited until it was "almost dark" or "almost raining".  I laughed at the ludicrousness of the attack.  I guess some people just don't have enough to do. But, her hurt was real, and that I completely understood.(I told her I couldn't imagine anyone caring when she does her laundry...but that's me...I'm an American, and don't consider that any of my business.) Thankfully my friend, who this summer, truly gotten saved, I believe, was able to understand that some people thrive on hurting others.  I asked her to read the book of Job and discover a man who had truly suffered some difficult things. Among other things we've dealt with so far...dealing with a young-man-in-jail's girlfriend, a women's depression at having her electricity turned off (and it's cold here), husband who drinks, people without work.  People are people, and can take a lot of time when you start dealing with them.


.........going back in the stores to the "same old stuff"...meaning that in the states, the stores were filled with new and different things to me.  There have been times that some of you have asked us to let us know what we want you to send us.  That is wonderful and really kind, but it really helps to see what is "out there" before I can make a great list...  When I returned to the bigger stores (here), they looked pretty much the same as always, except with the added "All Saint's Day candles" that they were selling by the scores so people could put them on their relative's graves and pray for them to get out of purgatory. 


.........remembering that we are guests here...and as such, don't always understand the way people think, nor do we understand the "church's" control over the personal lives of people, esp. as regarding traditions, and yet not affecting morality.  It remains a mystery to me.


........making my body get quickly into the time zone.  We arrived back Sat. afternoon, kind of late. Sunday morning Mike preached, and Monday morning, at 8, our kids headed back to school.  These days were especially difficult as adjusting to the time change this way seems to be more difficult than "going" west.  The children's Polish school scheduled (different daily, and each child different), combined with doing a lot at home in English, makes the days's as if a race is going on to see which will get here first..the end of the day or the work.


........last but not least....unpacking and putting away all the wonderful, helpful things that we brought back with us.  This, along with planning school and then executing it for 5 children, (home school stuff), cooking, of course, and people counselling, has taken most of the first 2 weeks that we've been back.  What's left to do? Well, getting the leaves raked, and garden ready for spring planting and all the donated grass clippings taken care of...then, planning for Christmas programs and special outreach, finish my Polish Christmas tract and a couple of testimony booklets I'm working on ...


Thanks for letting me share with you. I somehow doubt that my experiences are unique. I'd not be surprised if most other missionary wives experience these same things.  I've let the computer "go" for these first two weeks we've been back, barely sitting down and reading email. Now, if you write me, I'd be more conscientious as the rest of those aforementioned things are more under control. 


Thanks so much for praying for us.  We appreciate you.


For now and in Poland,

Becky Petersen